Chaka Khan ‘very honoured’ as music charity celebrates her ‘global impact’

Chaka Khan has said she was “very honoured” after she received the global impact award at the O2 Silver Clefs.

The 71-year-old was presented with the award in recognition of her 50-year career by the UK’s largest music therapy charity, Nordoff and Robbins.

The charity uses trained music therapists to help people living with autism, dementia, learning difficulties, brain injuries, life-limiting illnesses, mental health challenges, and grief and trauma.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Khan said it would take “too long” to explain all of the changes she had seen in the industry over the course of career.

Electric Picnic festival
Chaka Khan (Niall Carson/PA)

She added: “Technology is taking over the most part, I feel like I’m in competitive sports.”

The American singer also praised the work of the Nordoff and Robbins, saying: “They’re using music to heal people, and that’s what it’s all about, right?”

Khan received her award from British soul singer Mica Paris, who described her as “my best friend for 35 years”.

Paris said: “I’m here to honour my best mate, Chaka is one of my oldest friends.

“She asked me to do it and I was like, me, really? She was like, yes Mica, you’ve got to do it, and you don’t say no to Chaka.

“I’m very honoured to give her this, she’s not only an icon, she’s an incredible human being.

“She’s so caring and very supportive, she held my hand through this industry for a long time.”

Following the General Election, Paris called for more support for musicians, and said the previous government’s actions were “shocking”, particularly during the Covid pandemic.

South Bank Sky Arts Awards
Mica Paris (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

She said: “I think what happened over Covid was so disgusting, it was awful.

“And even what’s happened in Europe with the touring situation, it made it incredibly difficult to tour in Europe.

“They brought in all these tough measures, I’m not supporting any side, I’m not into politics at all, but I’m speaking about how we were crushed, it was really sad.

“Even though I don’t vote for anyone, I’m hoping that this new Government can help the musicians more.

“You always have to be hopeful, there’s nothing more.”

Jessie Ware said she was “very grateful” as she picked up the award for best female, and added she was proud to support the “amazing work” of Nordoff and Robbins.

She told PA: “I feel really thankful, it’s been 11 years since I won best newcomer.

Rolling Stone UK Awards
Jessie Ware (Ian West/PA)

“But I think today is all about celebrating the amazing work that Nordoff and Robbins do.

“When you come now and hear the stories, and the change they’re making, it’s incredibly amazing what they do.”

Ware also added that it “hadn’t been easy” to perform in the EU post-Brexit, and added she felt “positive” that the new Government would be able to improve the situation.

Edinburgh band, Young Fathers, picked up the best live act award, with singer Kayus Bankole, telling PA it felt like recognition for putting “a lot of energy into what we do”.

He said: “We put a lot of energy into our work, spiritually, and in all senses of the word, so it’s good for it to be acknowledged, like it’s not a game for us, and we take it really seriously.”

Bankole was one of many musicians present calling on the Government to open up access to arts.

He added: “Stop closing community centres, just stop shutting them down.

“It’s not just music, it’s all forms of art which need investment, because that’s the real deal, that’s what really changes people’s opinions about our surroundings.”

His thoughts were echoed by Femi Koleoso, of Ezra Collective, who won the contemporary music award, having won the Mercury Prize in September last year.

Koleoso told PA: “It was interesting that it wasn’t long ago that you saw a really frequent message like, if you’re a creative, maybe this is the time to retrain and go into tech.

“It felt like a moment where it seemed like a lot of people didn’t value the importance of music.”

But he said he felt it was up to musicians to bring attention to the art form, rather than the Government.

He added: “If I’m being completely honest I have no sight in the direction of the government in response to music and stuff.

“I think it’s up to me, I’m a musician, it’s my responsibility to make sure people love and care about music.

“That’s why we go into secondary schools and youth clubs, I think it’s a cop out to look at someone in Westminster and say you do it.”

Britpop legends Blur, also picked up an award at the lunch in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, in London’s Park Lane, winning the prestigious O2 Silver Clef for outstanding contribution to music.

The award has previously been won by the likes of David Bowie, Ed Sheeran, Roger Waters, Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Dame Shirley Bassey, Kylie Minogue, Stormzy, the Rolling Stones, Oasis and Coldplay.

Elsewhere, Australian rockers AC/DC picked up the legend award in recognition of five decades of the band.

Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler won the music icon award, The 1975 were awarded best group, while UK hip hop star Loyle Carner took home the award for best male.

Cat Burns picked up the award for best new music, Jacob Collier was given the award for innovation in music, and Texas picked up the outstanding achievement award.